Every morning when I have a an hour or so of free time before I head off to work, I travel to the south end of Wrightsville Beach to visit the tern-skimmer colony that has been there for the past several years. Each trip is rewarded with a peaceful walk on the beach in the early morning hours when few others are there and with the chance to check in on the nesting terns and skimmers.
Least Terns are the most abundant of the terns that nest. The first chicks hatch late last week, but most are still incubating. Some are still courting and building nests. Common Terns are also nesting as are the striking Black Skimmers, the second most abundant of the nesters.
While most of the least terns are paired and already nesting, a few unpaired adults are on the beach parading their freshly caught fish around a likely mate. Should she find the suitor worthy, she will accept the fish and they will have a chance to raise the next generation of terns.